ISTA Chapter 6 Amazon Packaging Requirements

In 2017, 5 billion products were shipped via Amazon’s Prime service alone. Multiply that to include all of its other shipments, and it’s clear why Amazon packaging requirements have become such an important part of container and package testing.

To reduce increased cost due to damage, most online merchants perform package testing to ensure that their products will reach the end user in good condition. To simplify this process while providing their customers with the best possible experience, Amazon has partnered with the International Safe Transit Association (ISTA) to provide guidelines that help sellers meet their Frustration Free Packaging (FFP) requirements. Element Portland works with vendors and shipping companies to ensure that they meet ISTA and Amazon requirements while saving time and money.

ISTA 6 – Amazon.com

Amazon packaging requirements are outlined in ISTA 6 guidelines, which allow member companies to release their own test standards and protocols in cooperation with ISTA. Depending on the size and category of product being shipped, the type of packaging required and the method of distribution, merchants can choose one of two major specifications to test: Ships in Own Container (SIOC) or Over Boxing.

Ships in Own Container (SIOC)

Amazon packaging requirements specify that products whose original or factory packaging is sufficiently durable do not need to be repackaged, and can be sent to the customer without any additional containers. While this often includes larger packages, it can also apply to smaller products sent by ground shipment. 

SIOC packages require a minimum of one test unless they are marked as fragile, in which cases 5 tests are required. In addition to obtaining a test report, it is strongly recommended to get photo documentation from a certified laboratory to support your results. A test is usually considered a failure if there is damage to the product, or significant damage to the packaging.

Over Boxing

Applying to the majority of small packages, over boxing covers all products that must be placed in an additional container before being shipped. This includes outer packaging as well as inner padding, such as air pillows or packing paper. When samples are sent to a laboratory, it is strongly recommended that they are over-packed for shipment, or that the lab applies new packaging per ISTA guidelines.

Although the number of samples needed to satisfy Amazon packaging requirements may vary, we recommend testing (3) units. Any leaking, damage to secondary packaging, tampering of seals or product defects result in a test failure, and packaging must be redesigned before retesting can occur.

ISTA Test Methods

In order to provide Frustration Free Packaging and satisfy ISTA 6 requirements, packages go through a range of test methods that simulate a typical transit route. While individual requirements may vary, most test programs include:

  • Temperature and Humidity Testing
  • Drop and Free Fall Simulation
  • Shock and Vibration Testing
  • Compression Testing
Working with Element

Element's ISTA certified, full-service packaging testing labs serving customers throughout North America. Our experts routinely work with individual vendors as well as third party shipping companies to ensure compliance with the latest versions of Amazon packaging requirements and ISTA 6 guidelines.

Contact us today and let us know how we can help save you time and money on your next shipment.

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